Photos by Craig Schneider, Kitestring
1980 Yamaha XT500

The initial thought was to create more of a vintage appearance drawing some cues from Honda Elsinores, vintage Huskys and Greeves bikes. Immediately, the plastic got tossed along with the tank. Sketching, carving foam, bending cardboard and mocking up ideas. ensued. A good bit of trail and error took place trying to maintain the functionality and retain the suspension travel.

After months of research and design concepts, a Yamaha CT175 gas tank was sourced. The tank would allow the bike to be very narrow, but it had to be cut out to fit the frame correctly and notched to wrap around the oil filler cap. A 3/8″ rod, or the backbone theme, framing the headlight, taillight and both filler caps as well using steel rings of varying sizes. The headlight and auxillary gas tank brackets were designed on the computer then CNC cut. Lewis Meyer at Falls City Ironworks created the double hoops on the frame to achieve the backend rise of the seat and mount for the taillight, and were trimmed, sleeved and welded them into place. Jeff Gill at Airkooled helped with metal fabrication, closing the tank back in, bending the backbone and piecing together three fenders to finish out the rear and incorporate housing for the electronics – all the while taking into account mounting systems for disassembly when needed.

Heel guards were created using aluminum tubing, hand-beveled and welded. The seat needed to have the backbone run through it which meant it needed to be tall enough for clearance but not too tall aesthetically. It’s constructed from high density race foam with a trim piece fabricated to hold the material down in the center. The seat was then sent to New Church Moto in Portland for upholstery. The decision was made to use the SuperTrapp exhaust but modified by a local muffler shop by welding new pipe to relocate the exhaust can. A universal mounting system was created – one for a Rotopax auxillary can can and the other for a Kriega saddlebag.

In addition to the bash guard, an ATV crashbar was cut, shortened, sleeved and welded, and mounts were welded to the frame. Final touches included having emblems cut, adding hand guards, some larger and more aggressive pegs, longer Progressive rear shocks, lengthening the kickstand, shaving the steering lock for proper headlight depth, rebuilding the forks, replacing bolts with stainless allen bolts, installing flush, lit, aluminum push buttons in the rear fender for power and lighting, and Cree LED front and rear bulbs.